Fitness Basics: The Exercise Bike Is Back
It's time for another look at an old fitness favorite.
Before You Buy a Bike continued...
Here are some questions to consider:
How much should you spend? A stationary bike can cost from a hundred
dollars to a couple of thousand, depending on its features. Experts suggest
buying something within your price range that offers the stability,
convenience, and control you desire. But don't overspend -- particularly if
you're not sure you'll stick with a cycling program.
Eskola recommends buying from a local fitness equipment dealer, who can
offer a warranty, service contract, and more assistance in operating the bike
than a chain department or discount store. She also says, "You get what you
pay for," so choose a bike made by a reputable company. Spending $700 to
$800, she says, will give you a great bike that will last.
"I definitely suggest you get one that has some options," Eskola
says. "As you get better, you're going to want to upgrade."
However, Magee is perfectly happy with a manual stationary bike she bought
for $300. At the time, she thought that was a lot, but she has since decided it
was worth it.
Should you get a used bike? If you belong to a gym, ask staffers to
notify you when the gym upgrades its bikes. Many health clubs will sell their
used stationary bikes to members at minimal cost. Even a bike that the club
used for spinning classes might work for you: They are stable and small, and
because they operate with belts or chains, they simulate the feeling of an
You can also look in the classified ads or ask local retailers about used
and reconditioned bikes. Talk to friends as well, says Calabrese.
Can you convert your outdoor bike? If you already have an outdoor
bike, says Calabrese, consider buying a cycle trainer or set of rollers.
Trainers essentially let you convert an outdoor bike into a stationary one by
elevating and mounting the back wheel and removing the front wheel. Rollers are
for more experienced riders because you have to balance your back wheel on them
to ride. Both are easy to store when not being used.
Should you go recumbent? Recumbent bikes, which became popular about
a decade ago, tend to be favored by seniors or those needing a rehabilitation
tool. "They're comfortable and non-impact," says Calabrese.
But don't mistake that for easier, she warns. "When you're upright,
you've got weight and gravity on your side. When you're lying back (recumbent),
you have to do almost more work to turn the crank."
Whatever bike you choose; make sure you feel comfortable with it. Try it out
in the store, with the shoes you'll be wearing. And ride for more than a few
seconds to make sure it stays comfortable. You may even ask the retailer for a
trial period to test the bike in your own environment.